UPDATE 9/27/2016

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I don’t have any updates for Zion’s Fall Color this year, however, I strongly recommend purchasing my newly released book on the Zion Narrows, available HERE. This book is essential to maximizing your time in the Narrows – it pinpoints WHEN and WHERE the stunning orange “zion glow” occurs.


UPDATE 11/5/2014

I went back down to Zion from 10/31 to 11/4 to capture the fall colors in their prime. The first two days had incredible storms that kept me out of the waterways and had me focusing on traditional scenic landscapes. When the storms broke, I went to the Subway on 11/3, and then explored the Narrows on 11/4. Click the thumbnails for full image views.

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The cottonwoods in the main canyon are pre-peak, and need only a couple days to really be at peak color. The classic Canyon Junction bridge shot is AT peak as of 11/2. This is a difficult shot to time, as by the time the tree on the left has full autumn colors, the tree on the right has lost a lot of leaves. Along the Riverside Walk, the oaks and maples are still fairly greenish.


nd-20141104-1326The Narrows

I consider the Narrows to be AT peak as of 11/4. While some of the cottonwoods inside still have a touch of green in places, others have already started losing many leaves. In my opinion it is better to have plenty of leaves and a touch of green than full flown yellow with half of the tree missing foliage. The Virgin was flowing at 46 ft³/s, right on historical average despite all of the recent rainfall. The water was crystal clear – moreso than I have ever seen it. Hikers were few and far between, and almost 100% of those in the Narrows were photographers.


nd-20141103-1239Left Fork North Creek

The Subway hike was well worth my time, but in ways I did not expect. The Subway proper was a bust. I am not sure if it is the leaf tannins from fallen leaves, or something from the recent rainfall, but the entire Left Fork North Creek was MUCH less clear than my earlier trip in October. Most areas with sandy bottoms had a layer of brownish muck that made pools seem much less crystalline. In the Subway formation, the pools definitely had a brownish tint, thought they did have those lovely swirling leaves to make patterns in the classic composition. I spent the majority of my time photographing other parts of the hike, and when I was at the Subway from 2 PM to 3 PM, I had it all to myself.



Arch Angel Falls

On the other hand, Arch Angel Falls was in perfect condition. Right at peak color on 11/3/2014. It is my belief that this canyon peaks as much as a week earlier than the main Zion Canyon. Additionally, the flows in the Left Fork North Creek seemed higher than usual, which made for a more interesting composition at Arch Angel Falls, but a more challenging one at The Crack.



nd-20141102-1072East Zion

I went to the area of Zion east of the tunnel in search of bright red maple groves, but conditions were tough. I was in the middle of a nasty rainstorm, and I believe the recent storms had blown the leaves off of most maples that had already turned. There were still a good number of maple groves that were greenish, though it appeared to be a greenish brown.




My last trip to Zion was the weekend of October 12, 2014 and I wanted to take a second to give a very brief report of what I saw. That was already two weeks ago, so this may be irrelevant for those of you planning you 2014 fall color trips, but nonetheless, here we go…

Zion Canyon

There is practically zero fall color within Zion Canyon. The cottonwoods and maples are still green. HOWEVER – if you want to know how the color is in Zion Canyon right now, all you need to do is checkout the webcam.

The Narrows

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A selfie in the Narrows

Flow seemed very low in the Narrows, at 39 ft³/s. I didn’t bring my camera gear on the hike, but I do have some images from my iPhone. I will saw this is the lowest I’ve ever seen the river, and it definitely changes some favorite compositions of mine. As it turns out, 39 ft³/s is right on par for the historical average around this time of here. You can always check flows here.

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We could only get so far into Orderville before we reached a pool that was too deep to wade.

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Some glow on the canyon walls in Orderville.


Fall color hasn’t touched more than a handful of leaves in the Narrows. BUT, there has been a significant change! The logjam that normally prevents casual walking into Orderville Canyon has disappeared. I’ve never been in there before, so I was pretty excited. The canyon is sort of like Wall Street, but narrower. Here’s some images. Notice, green trees.

 Left Fork North Creek

Fall color is just starting along the hike to The Subway. There is still plenty of green, but there’s a good bit of yellow, orange, and red already. This is partly due to the fact that the Subway is actually 1,000 ft higher than the Zion Canyon floor. Even with fall color just only starting, there were a surprising amount of yellow leaves in the water already. I think that is because the foliage upstream is even further along in the color change process. Here are some images from that hike.

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Arch Angel Falls

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Hiking along Left Fork North Creek

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Clear, low water in the Left Fork North Creek

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Maples starting to turn in the Left Fork North Creek

 The Subway

The Subway had enough colorful leaves to make a little bit of swirling. However, the trees and shrubs above the Subway still show completely green. A big change at the Subway is the sand. The main pool has less sand. It’s deeper, and bluer, and that’s a good thing. HOWEVER, the area behind that main pool, a crucial foreground for some compositions, is super sandy, and it’s not very flattering. Here are the photos…

End Of Summer Subway

The classic Subway composition


Sandy second pool at the Subway with a bonus log.


Sandy pools behind the main pool at the Subway

I hope this quick Zion early fall color report has been of a little help. I’ll try to post a more relevant one after my fall color trip in November, but most likely by the time you read it, the color will already be gone!